We all know the color of vanilla. It’s off-white right? Well, think again.
Vanilla pods look like this:
The outside is a very dark brown, and the inside is almost black. So why do we associate vanilla with a yellowish white?
Really, its because of the ubiquitous vanilla-flavored ice-cream.
Vanilla, and “natural vanilla extract” being very expensive, the food industry is using artificially-produced vanillin (one of the around two hundred compounds present in vanilla), and the color comes from artificial coloring or things such as annatto, which is actually orange-red but gives a yellow color. The presence of cream and eggs in good quality ice creams also gives the “vanilla” color.
When the ice cream is produced with real vanilla, we can see those little black spots.
The term “plain vanilla” is also very interesting. It means very basic, ordinary. But in truth, vanilla is one of the most expensive spices after saffron, and its aroma is very complex, so it’s neither basic or ordinary!
In the financial field, standard options are called “plain vanilla options“, whereas the opposite are “exotic options“. Once again, this is ironic, knowing that actual vanilla mostly comes from “exotic places” such as Madagascar or Tahiti!
In summary, vanilla is everything and its contrary!
For more information, read this article on npr.org.